Darko Etinger – singer and guitarist of Infernal Tenebra
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Massacre Records for providing me with promo pics.
Infernal Tenebra is a Croatian death/thrash act that I got really interested in when I heard their debut album NEW FORMED REVELATIONS. I hooked up with Darko Etinger, singer and guitarist, in order to get to know him and the band a bit better. It’s not everyday I come across a band from Croatia and we ended up talking about the brand new album, the bands past, present, and future, and how the metal climate in Croatia is doing.
I thought we could begin by talking about your brand new studio album NEW FORMED REVELATIONS. Could you tell the readers a bit about the album like what some of the the lyrics are about, how long it took to record, and what you are the most happy about when it comes to the album?
The album NEW FORMED REVELATIONS depicts the current society state, it’s about the conflict at the cross of an era. It describes the problems the entire planet faces, fallen regimes, the human quest to endure the unimaginable, the impact of technology on our behavior etc. It took us several months in 2011 to record it and I’m satisfied with the overall results. My intention was to kind of gather all our experiences from the band’s history and build a solid foundation for a new chapter of Infernal Tenebra as a band.
Did you use any of your older songs on the album or was all of the songs especially written for NEW FORMED REVELATIONS?
Two previously written songs DAMAGE CONTROL and ONE MINUTE SILENCE ended up on the album, as we rearranged them and brought something fresh. We felt those songs sit nice in the NEW FORMED REVELATIONS album.
Who writes the lyrics and where do you find inspiration?
I am the writer of the lyrics and inspiration really comes from several sources; everyday life, books, movies and so on.
Who has done the cover art-work and what do you think of it?
The artwork was created by Gustavo Sazes (Sepultura, Firewind, Arch Enemy…) and it’s based on the concept we envisioned during the writing of the album. We’re very satisfied with the result. It reflects perfectly the album’s vibe only in a subtle way.
Do you think that the band has developed music-wise on this album if you compare it with the previous self-financed THE ESSENCE OF CHAOS from 2007?
We definitely developed our skills. Everything got together somewhere by the end of 2009 and we felt we had something to offer. A combination of old school death metal and modern elements, with a lot of melodies (possibly not cheesy ones), intricate guitar work and versatile vocals.
Have you read any reviews in the media regarding the new album? Do you care about what critics have to say about your work?
Of course we follow the reviews as well as the notes our fans leave us. There are times I agree with them, times where what’s written is complete bullshit but we have to deal with it. By the end of the day, the only thing that matters really is the question of our own satisfaction with the music. If you believe in yourself, no subjectively written reviews of critics can raise doubt in your work.
NEW FORMED REVELATIONS is the first album that you released on a proper label is that correct? Do you count this disc as being your debut album?
I read once about Pantera releasing their own records instead of demos back in the day, and that’s exactly the case with Infernal Tenebra. You have to remember we come from Croatia, which as a very closed country, enduring the war in the 90-ties and struggling with economic crisis. So, instead of putting out 10 demos for nothing, we self-released two albums “Beneath the Twilight” and “The Essence of Chaos”. It was just not feasible for us to even try to make a career back than. There was no support, we did it all on our own and the passion for extreme metal music brought us to the point where we got a chance to sign up with MASSACRE RECORDS and release an album we could be proud of.
Have you shot a video to any of the songs? If so which one and when was it shot?
We shot a video for the song BLOOD STAINED CANVAS. It was directed by Igor Malečić (Meisterwerk Productions) in co-op with Smartcube Productions. It was shot in the big hangar Jedinstvo in Zagreb in October 2012, two months before the album release date.
Are there any plans on shooting videos to any of the other songs as well?
There are plans to do a video for the song THE ART OF SURVIVAL. No info to share about, except it’s gonna be killer or it won’t be at all.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Infernal Tenebra plays?
Like I said, it’s death metal, with thrash metal elements, very clean and listenable epic choruses, with modern elements, skillful guitar-work, versatile growl and clean vocals. Our main focus is not to write music that’s only progressive, technical but also songs you can sing along too, memorable, groovy, melodic but still true to extreme metal.
In retrospect, are you happy with the outcome of the album or do you feel that you should have done something in a different way?
Well, the album is almost perfect for that period of time. If you look at an album as a place in time of a band, it’s the best we could have done in that particular moment. It a foundation for our future work. We think it’s sincere, it’s brutal, it’s catchy it’s the way we wanted it to be. That’s the most important thing.
Studio and production work
Where was the album recorded and who produced it?
The album was recorded at our own studio we built throughout the years. It’s actually both a studio and our rehearsal practice room. A very nice environment to fell comfortable and express ourselves in the best way possible. I took the role of the producer and developed a certain vision for the whole album concept. It’s hard work to do it all, but I think we needed that to make this whole thing sincere and plant the roots of our future.
What did the rest of the band think of having you as producer what do you think is your strongest feature as producer?
I know they hate me badly hahaha. I think my strongest skill is imagination of the whole music concept and my determination to bring the best out of people.
Who took care of the mastering and mixing? And where was that done?
We had the opportunity to choose from several different mix/mastering engineers and facilities and I decided to opt for Jens Bogren (Kreator, Soilwork, Paradise Lost, Amon Amarth…) at Fascination Street Studios in Orebro, Sweden.
Were any of the band members part in the mastering/mixing process done in Sweden? If so what did they think of Sweden?
I had full confidence in Jens Bogren and we decided to let him do the whole thing on his own and let us discuss the results and determine the final version. With nowadays communication & collaboration tools, it’s just easier to do it.
How come you wanted Bogren to do mastering and mixing and do you think that you’re going to work with him in the future?
As I always enjoyed the organic sounds Jens managed to produce with established metal bands, it just seemed like a best solution. I wanted to create a real sound and feel, and to be able to recreate it in a live situation. Jens did an amazing job with mixing and mastering the album and he’s our choice for the next effort as well.
Label and management
What made you choose to ink a deal with Massacre Records?
We wanted to get signed to a decent label, it was our priority for this release. With the help of Full Metal Service, Heavy Space Agency and Metal Holiday we started the quest for the label that would give us the whole package and a place we could feel we’re taken care of. The opportunity was given by Massacre Records. They really liked our work and gave us a push forward. It’s a relationship that helps us develop the way we need.
Were there other labels that showed interest in signing you as well?
Sure. There’s several other labels and agencies we spoke to, but only Massacre Records offered us the deal we needed.
Are you happy with the work MR have put into the band and the album so far?
We’re very happy. They’re doing a great job, very professionally and they’re always available to us for anything we need.
For how many albums are you signed for at MR?
It’s a one album deal with possibility of re-signing which is probably the best option for us right now.
Are you co-operating with any management or booking agencies?
Currently, we’re managed by the Full Metal Service agency, and our booking agency is Heavy Space Agency from Germany. We’ve also done some promotional work with Factory Music Management & Agency in UK.
Who originally formed the band and when was the band born?
Infernal Tenebra was formed in the eclipse of 1999 by several ex-members and only one original band member left, the bassist Paolo Grižonič.
Where does the band name Infernal Tenebra come from and what does it mean?
It basically translates to Shadows from Hell and the idea came from Paolo and the ex-drummer Danijel. The band started as a pure black metal band so it’s kind of an awkward name for the band considering today’s music, but keep it as a homage to our legacy and heritage. It’s almost a cult!
You have released two previous albums on your own with no back up from any label. Could you tell us about those albums? Are they possible to buy today?
Like stated above, we DIY them, self-released and traded in the underground scene. They’re still available from our website as a free download. It’s a cool way to explore our past, to get an insight into the development of our sound.
Was it given from the start that you were going to play this kind of music that you do today?
Maybe the first years were determined by the black metal genre but later it went into the unknown.
Is the current line-up the original one or have you had member changes through the years?
Well, during the years a lot of line up changes occurred and each new member brought something new to the table. It was chaotic, but it helped us become very eclectic in our views and capabilities, so I think what you hear today is the result of the complete journey.
Infernal Tenebra have played at Bloodstock Open Air, Metalcamp and Metalfest how was that?
Really great. We enjoy traveling around and playing festivals and shows. Getting on stage and presenting your work to the audience is one of the reasons one has a band in the first place. We headlined the Metalcamp 2011 second stage and it was a blast. Right after Mastodon finished their headlining show at the first stage, we started rocking and everyone was ready for the mosh-pit. Metalfest 2012 was an awesome experience as we managed to get on the first stage, but as we were the openers, it was kinda weird with all the hangover both from us and the fans hahaha. Bloodstock Open Air 2012 was something special to us. We just got signed to Massacre Records and were preparing for the album release and we traveled to UK to play Sophie Lancaster Stage. It was our first time being in UK, and it will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Which show has been the best one so far do you think?
Bloodstock Open Air still has a special place in our hearts as it is trully a giant of the real metal festival as it should be. By the fans, for the fans. But we enjoyed all of them, every one has it’s particular ups and downs. We remember mostly good things and we’re looking forward to future festivals.
The band comes from Croatia which is a country that maybe isn’t so known for its metal scene but how’s the metal climate in Croatia today?
Croatia is a very small country with only 4.5 million people, so you can count the real metal fans on your fingers. But man, those few are a blast. So, it’s a very underground environment, but vivid and fierce.
Are there many metal acts from Croatia that have made it outside Europe?
I guess no one has made it outside Europe yet. Actually, Croatia is still not into Europe yet, but it will be a part of EU in a few months, so it gives opportunity to bands to take their chances and present themselves to the world.
Is Infernal Tenebra big in Croatia?
I could never make a claim Infernal Tenebra is big in any way except our passion and determination to create what we’re best at. But it’s not about being big, but being good. That said, by the numbers and achievements we are in the group of metal bands, at least real metal bands, with most achievements. I definitely should mention several comrades like Rising Dream, Ashes You Leave, War-head, Cold Snap, Avicularia and more as bright stars of the Croatian metal scene.
Do you see any problems or difficulties in that the band are from a “small” country?
Heavy metal music is not exposed to the mainstream so it’s all underground. I think no mass media covered the story of Infernal Tenebra. There are incentives for that now, but we’re totally against that. We’re doing our thing globally, and us coming form Croatia is only a burden at the moment. Possibly it will change soon.
Are there any common artists or bands that you guys look up to or are inspired by?
We’re inspired by a whole range of metal bands, but if I had to name a few obvious suspects they would be Gojira, Behemoth, Necrophagist, Hypocrisy, Carcass and Death.
Do you think it’s important to be active on the social networks today in order to keep in touch with fans and so on?
It’s a part of today’s communication process with the fans. Nowadays we live in a whole new place, where bands, fans, labels, press are all interconnected. It creates a more intimate relationship between the parties and it’s a good thing. That said, the social network should be just a layer on top of the whole thing, not the main thing.
You have got a really nice website who runs it?
Thanks. The website design was developed by Darkforce Design, with the band developing the site and running it. We try to keep it updated and clean looking.
I know you did a few festival shows earlier this year, where was that and was it fun?
In March 2013 we visited Norway for Trondheim MetalFest and played with Gojira, Hatebreed, Anaal Nathrakh and Imperial Deathkult. Man, what a country and what an amazing little festival. Great backstage party with the guys from Imperial Deathkult and Anaal Nathrakh. In April we played Belgium’s Prog Power and Metal Fest (PPM Fest). It was a whole new level playing such a professionally organized show on the first stage (Omega stage). Excellent reception, cool fans, best stage crew ever and fantastic line up.
Do you think the band gained fans on the festivals?
I think we did, as the merch was selling like crazy and giving autographs and talking to the fans. We’re new to the scene but people started to recognize us. It’s all for the fans and I’m satisfied seeing them happy with Infernal Tenebra.
Are there any plans on heading out on a proper tour later this year and do you have any festival shows booked for the summer yet?
As long as the tour goes, we’re looking to go out with a bigger established band, possibly with one of our idols. We turned down some offers and we’re not rushing it. When it all comes together as we’d like it, we’re going. There’s talks about other festivals later this summer but nothing is confirmed yet. Also, a possible Scandinavian tour and Japanese tour is in the works for the end of the year but it’s too early to talk about that. What’s hot right now is something really special for us and the Croatian metal scene. As the leading Croatian international festival Burning Sea was canceled due to some obscure taxes regulation being pushed by the government, around ten Croatian bands together with our management agency Full Metal Service decided to start a brand new festival managed, organized and financed by the bands, with contribution by the fans. It’s called UNDERWALL FESTIVAL and it’s taking place in the city of Zadar, on June 7th and 8th, 2013 with Infernal Tenebra co-headlining the first day and Destruction headlining the second day. The headliner for the first day is soon to be confirmed. It’s a great new 2000 people capacity festival and it’s ours. Get more info at http://www.underwallfestival.com
Is the album released in North America and Asia yet?
Sure, we have a worldwide deal with Massacre Records and the album is available through distribution partners CENTURY MEDIA and THE END RECORDS in USA, PLASTIC HEAD in Canada, Japan and rest of Asia.
Do you have any idea when the next album is going to be released or are you currently working on material to the next album?
We’re currently writing the material for the next album and it’s going really good. I think it’s going to be a step forward, more intense, more cohesive and more focused. We’re given much more freedom to explore and add as much personal ideas into the project. It’s probably going to be released in 2014.
Are you happy with what the band have achieved so far and what are the plans for Infernal Tenebra in the near future?
Infernal Tenebra is a metal band coming from Croatia, one of the last places on Earth you would go search for a metal band. Not a lot of people are aware of what it takes to make it from a country like that. But we’re here, finally, and we’re here to stay. Our future looks bright and we’ll cover it with our darkness. We know what we’re capable of, and it’s time to show it to the people. We passed many obstacles and walls to get here and it’s an experience not many bands have.
What do you have to say to the unlucky ones who haven’t discovered Infernal Tenebra yet?
Expose yourself to Infernal Tenebra and let us take you to unimaginable places.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy NEW FORMED REVELATIONS?
1.It’s death/thrash metal with progressive and modern elements, skillfully played and written, with growl vocals that can actually sing; if you’re into this type of music, you’re going to enjoy it;
2.We’re a Croatian metal band, doesn’t that intrigue enough to discover something different and fresh;
3.It’s mixed and mastered by top engineers Jens Bogren (Kreator, Soilwork, Amon Amarth) at Fascination Street Studios with beautiful artwork by Gustavo Sazes (Arch Enemy, Sepultura, Firewind) and released by Massacre Records; that’s a sure bet for quality.
Well, that was all for me and metal-rules.com for now. Thanks a lot for making the interview possible. I wish you and the band all the best in the future!! Do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
A big thanks to you and our fans worldwide, we’re all Infernal Tenebra. In the shadows of hell, we dwell!!!!